CKF student competes with British WEKAF champion!
One of our Escrima Assistant Instructors recently decided to do some reconnaissance to see what all the noise was about when it came to stick sparring competitions. Showing a lot of resilience and courage, Neil went from ‘This might be fun’ on Monday night to full on sparring on Sunday. He did incredibly well, and has acquired a lot of knowledge with which he aims to prepare for next year (with some company if you fancy having a go). Read his account and then check out the videos of his fights below.
(Note: the ‘live hand’ is an acceptable target but you’re not really allowed to do anything with it apart from ‘checking’ an opponent which is why in the Single Stick match the opponent quite often keeps it back out of the way. We train to use both hands equally which means Neil was having to combat his own training at the same time as fighting an opponent who has been training specifically for this event.)
"The other night I happen to look on Facebook and made a decision that has changed my life. I saw an advert for an World Escrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) competition in Luton on Sunday the 27th of November. I decided that despite not really having any idea what to expect I would go. I contacted Col my Escrima Concepts instructor, to ask permission and things just snowballed from there. Within a day he had completely unexpectedly changed his plans, was going to accompany me and began offering tactics and advice in addition to asking his teacher Grandmaster Steve Tappin for strategies and ideas. Now in Escrima Concepts we train to win and finish any kind of confrontation quickly and definitively as at the end of the day if an aggressor picks up a weapon to attack you they can potentially maim or kill you with no skill required, hence the phrase "falling on your sword". Competition Escrima is very different, you are judged on tactics, speed, movement, both defensively and offensively. Your opponent wears armour and your stick is half the diameter and rigidity of our normal training aids (about the diameter of my little finger). You can not attack the back of your opponent, they will not stop or even react much when you hit them, you can not punch or kick, or grab or hold. So bearing all that in mind and armed with various bits of armour scrounged or brought last minute in Cambridge and 30min of practice we headed off to Luton 8am Sunday morning.
The turn out was good and some of the people we recognised from various seminars and previous Filipino martial arts festivals we had attended. A quick word with the organiser had secured me some spare gloves and we awaited the start. The day starts with solo form demonstrations, some are formal and others are "freestyle" it was quite something to watch people spinning and thrusting swords and sticks around. Then the first single stick match began, the speed and differences between our system and competition were very soon apparent! Unperturbed Col and I began analysing and planning. Before long it was my turn, I was strapped into my armour and the whistle blew. We launched into action attacking and retreating. The first round went well my footwork and movement keeping me in control and safe, unfortunately it's also very tiring and I had underestimated how draining. The second round I became slower and didn't respond enough. The third was better but by then I had lost the match.
We watched many more matches finally seeing the finals and British Single Stick champions announced.
About 4 hours after my first match the time came to suit up ready for my double stick match. Unfortunately Col had needed to leave by now but the President of WEKAF and former world champion stepped in to support my efforts and "corner me" during my fight. Taking on the lessons from my first fight and learning from the matches I had been watching during the day, I went in to this match better prepared. The double stick fight was very different, I tried to not hit with as much power and attempted to use more explosive attacks combined with defensive jabs on the retreat. This worked and I won my fight. This meant I was now in the finals for British Champion and the chance to represent not only Escrima Concepts Cambridge but also England in the European competition next summer. This was something I really had not expected and was very surprised.
A few hours passed and many more fights and it was my turn again. This time I was up against an opponent who in addition to having over 17 years experience of weapons fighting, his own martial arts school and being extremely fit was WEKAF 6 time International and British champion. I was thrilled to have reached this final stage but very nervous and knew there was very little chance of winning. I focused on the fight and began, this time my opponent used his experience of the rules and sparring, to bring the fight into his comfort zone and after a couple of tiring mistakes he had me!
But not to fear I shall be returning next year, fitter and more canny :)
A huge thanks to Col for his unwavering support, Grandmaster Steve Tappin of Escrima Concepts and the WEKAF GB team it was fun.” - Neil Ellis
Follow the links to view the action!
Single Stick Fight: https://youtu.be/7uhjhDIoYW0
Double Sticks, First Fight: https://youtu.be/uvRz0o9J8ZY
Double Sticks Final, Round 1: https://youtu.be/j7l0aGgOvM0
Double Sticks Final, Round 2: https://youtu.be/0S-X9w4Ei2M
Double Sticks Final, Round 3: https://youtu.be/uvRz0o9J8ZY